Check out our new site!

Thank you so much for following me all of these years!  Please join me over at my new website, where I will be sharing stories from the farm, my wellness journey, personal development and some tried and true recipes from our family.


Click here to visit Tails From The Gravel Road



The Ripple Effect: An outpouring of love

I have never done a throw back Thursday blog post, but as I was searching through my you tube videos looking for something for a friend of mine I stumbled upon the video of my first outdoor sprint triathlon! I thought this might be a good way to start this ripple effect post.  Keep in mind my video making skills have improved a great deal, my transition times have improved drastically, too! None the less take a look.

I  chose to write about this today, because let’s face it.  If it weren’t for JT’s inspirational life and encouragement from people like my family and Kathy I probably never even would have let the words triathlon squeak out of my mouth or even remotely considered becoming an athlete. Kathy was a huge supporter to me in this journey in 2012!  She cheered me on via Facebook with each workout I completed.  ME, a former overweight couch potato, became an athlete.  Why?  I remember thinking if JT came from little old Rockford and did the things he did then why can’t I do a little old triathlon.  Then I remember starting to make excuses in my head of why I COULDN’T do a triathlon.  More recently when I said I was going to do 4 hours of Zumba I started second guessing myself.  I started thinking of reason why it might not work or reasons I COULDN’T do it.

Sitting here typing this I am beyond excited that I made that split second decision to crush those excuses and push the publish button on Schmitt Fitness Zumba Super Sunday to support the Tumilson’s.  Why?  As I type, the story that appeared on the Globe Gazette has been shared 932 times, there has already been $2,000 given to the youcaring fund and it is growing, and I have a  inbox full of messages from people that want more information on the event. (If you are planning to attend the event on Super Bowl Sunday, please fill out this form.)

I call this the ripple, just imagine that you through a pebble into the water and it caused several ripples and chain reactions to occur…JT was killed in action. It was devastating for anyone that knew JT.  There was an outpouring of love and support for the Tumilson’s, JT story was told hundreds of times, we all learned and read books about the Navy Seals to get a glimpse into what JT may have done.   Our community is now more educated than ever before in our troops!  This social media frenzy continued through Facebook  and followers flooded the Tumilson family with love and support the best way they could with virtual hugs, relationships built, and connections made. The statue was built in Rockford in honor of Jon and will stand proud and strong for many years to come!


Joy’s husband, Scott, is diagnosed with cancer.  There are thousands, upon thousands of people praying for them and circling the wagons on the prayer chains because of the 50,000 plus people following the JT Facebook Page.  Scott and Joy’s family probably had thousands of prayers going up for them each night because of JT. And now, Kathy is diagnosed with cancer, those thousands of followers rallied on the Facebook page once again to send prayers and virtual hugs, keep in mind many of these people have never even met her in person.  Then on Wednesday night the article was published about the event and within hours it was being shared, over the course of 4 hours I watched the number of times that article was shared climb from 61 to 510 shares!  That is amazing! This is the ripple my friends, for me is started with that silly old triathlon and now it is so much more.  My heart is full and I am in awe of how wonderful people are and their generosity is just contagious!  I am amazed at how this ripple continues and am forever grateful to those of you that have help spread the word in support of the Tumilson family.

So again on Sunday I will be doing a marathon of Zumba Fitness, if you will, it will be tough, if you have been to my Zumba Fitness classes you know it’s no joke so 4 hours is going to be extremely tough. My plan is to crush any excuses that pop into my head remembering that there are a whole lot of other people in this world suffering a lot more than me and that if Kathy was on Facebook seeing a post about it she would type something like, “Way to crush it, Jen!”

God Bless You All and I encourage you to…


What inspires me Wednesday………. My Tribe (Guest Post)

It’s time for What Inspires You Wednesday again! Today’s guest post comes from Leslie, a fellow triathlete. leslie .

My journey starts September of 2012.  I woke up 130# overweight, diabetic , depressed and in the middle of a bad divorce.   I felt that there was no hope, my life had spiraled out of control and I had no idea how I was going to reign it back in.  I was lost.

I cleaned up my eating, started moving, and my sister in law encouraged me to run a 5k with her.  At first I thought she had lost her ever loving mind.  I can’t run, I DON’T RUN!!!  With encouragement from my family and friends I signed up.  Any one that has ever crossed a finish line knows that once you do, it changes your life forever.leslie 3leslie 1

I dropped 70# and decided that Triathlon was the journey that was right for me.  I was a swimmer, I loved biking, learning to LIKE running.  I picked up this little book called “Triathlon for Every Woman” by Meredith Atwood, and felt that she was speaking directly to me.  It was the first time that I didn’t feel like I was a fake, that I was capable of being this athlete that I so desperately needed to be.   In the following months, I trained started and completed my first triathlon.

leslie 5les 6 les7les 8

My triathlon journey has not always been beautiful or inspiring, there have been times when it was ugly, hard, and I wanted to quit.  Without my tribe there are moments when I think I might have.  Triathlon is the medium that has brought amazingly uplifting and empowering women into my life.   2015 is going to be an interesting year.  I have the honor of being selected to represent Swim Bike Mom on her Ambassador Team.  I am excited to have been given the opportunity to pay back to the organization and sport that launched me into my new life.

les 11les 10les 14


Triathlon is how I  found myself.  I have spent my life doing for others, that I forgot who I was. Racing has given me the opportunity to put in the work,  show up, and finish what I started.   But I would never have made it to that starting line, let alone the finish line if it were not for these amazing women.    I want to thank my mom Linda for always being a pillar of strength and taught me to be a survivor, my best friend Liz for believing in me, Laura, Joni, and Shawna for keeping me off the couch and inspiring me to better, Meredith for inspiring the masses with your stories of REAL LIFE as a triathlete and bringing the ARMY and new friends into my life,  lastly Karen and Jennifer, for being amazing rock star athletes, and accepting this turtle triathlete where she is.  You all inspire me to be a better me.

Follow me at




If you would like to be featured and share your story about what inspires you, please email me at

Tabata Tuesday-It’s a Butt Kicker

It is no secret I love tabata workouts! They are quick and efficient and you can work your entire body!

Here is another installation of Tabata Tuesday!

This is how I do my tabata workout at home, I use an app called interval timer on my phone, which works really well. Set your timer for 8 sets of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Do 8 sets of each exercise. After you complete one exercise for 8 sets, rest for 45 seconds and move on to the next exercise.

1. Butt Kicks

2. Reverse Lunge circle bell around upper thigh

3. High Knee taps

4. Burpees with push ups

5. Skater slides

6. Kettlebell Clean and Press

7. Rope Climb 

8. Kettlebell Reach

Share this workout with someone that you think may enjoy it and comment below and let us know what you thought!

If you are interested in joining one of my PiYo challenge groups comment below.  The next group starts February 2nd!

Marathon Monday-Running With Crohn’s

image1 (24)

I am just trying to take my marathon training one day at a time. Not looking ahead to the next run, just focusing on what is on the calendar for the day in which I am living in!  Today is Humira day and I am going to try it in my leg to see if I can avoid the reaction on my tummy.  I am going to do the Humira this morning, then run later to see if it causes soreness or pain so that I know in case I am still on Humira in June for Crohn’s Disease.  Speaking of Crohn’s I use the same thought process for my disease, just one day at a time!

I was able to get some great runs in again last week, my run on Saturday left me a little disappointed.  My defective guts decided to act up around mile 3. Let’s be really honest here, if you are a runner you know what these stomach pains are like, now imagine them doubling and no rest room in sight! I did the quick scan of what or who was near me, no trees big enough to hide behind and the campground bathroom that I frequent was closed for winter. Ugh!

So, I did the just slow down and try to take yourself out of it technique. That wasn’t working so I resorted to walk and that will make the feeling go away. That really didn’t work so I resorted to the change your route and run like hell to the gas station technique. That really, really didn’t work and it quickly turned into the run as fast as you can to get to your car before you see anyone that knows you technique. 😦 Sometimes I hate Crohn’s, I really do. Unfortunately, it is just part of the territory and I deal with it.  I really love running outdoors, but when my guts are acting up sometimes it just makes life easier to run on the treadmill.

I will continue to take it one day at a time and keep on running!

Have you ever had a run that messed with your tummy?

Do you eat a certain way before a run to help stop tummy problems?

Are you a runner with Crohn’s Disease? On Humira? How is it going for you?

Making Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea

image1 (22)

I love this quote, it is so true the more organized I am on Sunday the better week I have. It is a great day to reflect, plan, and thank the good Lord for the beautiful life we have been blessed with. Remember how I mentioned the other day my new found love for Aromas Coffee Bar and their skinny vanilla chai tea? Since I only go to Charles City twice a week I had been experimenting with different kinds of chai tea bags and found nothing that worked.  😦  So, I did what every 30’s something woman would do…scoured Pinterest! I found quite a few recipes, but none that I loved. image4 (2) This weekend I concocted my own skinny vanilla chai tea!!! It comes nowhere near to Aaromas, but it is probably as close as I will get at home.  It made a large Tupperware full and will probably last a few weeks, well maybe, all four of us have really been loving it!  The recipe that I came up with is at the bottom of this post.

image3 (4)

The mixture looks like this, you can run it through a food processor until it is a fine powder.

image2 (10)

Ellie enjoying a vanilla chai tea this morning!

   I was excited to have Grace at Zumba tonight!  She was singing in the microphone and dancing when there were a few ladies there.  I pray that she keeps her fearlessness!  This girl doesn’t care what she wears, cares less what others think, and is very talented. At Christmas time she sang in the church choir with all adults, most kids would have never even dreamed of doing something like that.  I pray that she keeps her drive to be herself, she is going to go far with an attitude like that!

image1 (23)

image1 (21)

A little game of UNO and some more skinny vanilla chai tea after supper!

image2 (12)

Drinking my tea out of the mug I made at Market 124.


– 1 Cup Non Dairy Creamer

– 1 Cup Non Dairy Vanilla Creamer

-1 Cup Non Dairy Powdered Milk

– 1 1/2 Cups Instant Tea, unsweetened

– 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

– 2 teaspoons ground ginger

– 1 teaspoon ground cloves

– 1 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon all spice

– 1 teaspoon of cardamom

– 3/4 cup of sugar

Mix all powdered ingredients together in a Tupperware container.  You will add 2 Tablespoons to 8 oz. of water or hot milk.  To make this skinny you will need to use skim milk or almond milk.  I like to heat the almond milk to 145 degrees.  That makes the perfect drink for our family!  Next time I am going to experiment with less sugar and I am going to keep track of how many drinks this mixture makes. I am guessing it will last at least a couple of weeks in a tightly stored container.  It would make a great gift to give someone in a pint jar with the directions to make a nice cup!

Do you like to make things homemade?

Have you ever made homemade do it yourself gifts?

Schmitt Fitness Zumba Super Sunday

You are going to do Zumba Fitness class for how long?  This was a common question I got the other day when I announced a 4 hour Zumba Fitness session coming up on Super Bowl Sunday. Then the next question is usually… WHY???

I have two reasons…

1. I was so close to 400 likes on my Facebook page and I offered the challenge to my Schmitt Fitness Family to see if we could get the 400, before I knew it we were at 440. 🙂 I did 200 burpees at 200 likes and I just wasn’t sure my body could hack 400 burpees in a row, so I had to get a little more creative.


2. My fitness crew had been discussing ways we could raise funds for the Kathy Tumilson family, if you aren’t familiar with Kathy you can read my post about her here.  So, we are going to use Schmitt Fitness Super Sunday for just that!


Here are the details for our huge Schmitt Fitness Super Sunday event!

When: Feb. 1st from 1-5 PM

Where: Rudd Community Center

Cost: Free Will Donation to be given to the Tumilson Family

How this will work: This event will ,be 4 hours of Zumba Fitness Class, every hour on the hour we will start with a warm up so that you can come in at anytime if you aren’t interested in all 4 hours.

What to bring: Water, a towel, money for the donation, a healthy snack, and clean shoes.  If you have never participated in a Schmitt Fitness class please plan to fill out a liability form.

Who: This event is open to ANYONE that would like to attend. Please help spread the word! Share this on your social media sites, to your co-workers, family, and friends! Let’s raise some money for the Tumilson Family and have fun getting fit while doing it!  If you know Kathy you know she loves life and she enjoys a great time, so let’s dance, laugh, and celebrate life on Super Bowl Sunday!


What happens if I don’t want to exercise the entire time?

No problem at all! Come when you can, dance a few songs, have a seat then jump back in. Come for 1 hour, 3 hours, or the entire time. The choice is yours.

I have never done Zumba Fitness, can I still come?

Absolutely! Come check it out and have some fun!  You can also come and watch to get an idea of what we do!

Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments section below! I will update this post with more FAQ as they come up!  Please spread the word about this FUN EVENT!

Five things I love about Aromas Coffee Bar

The day started off great! I got a 3 mile run in on the treadmill,  a Piyo  workout in, and then we headed to preschool and school drop off! Then, I got to go to one of my favorite places that I frequent on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now let me be honest with you, I am not a coffee lover at all and had never even set foot in a coffee shop until a few months ago. Now it is something I look forward to each week!


So a couple of months ago rather than running back home after dropping me off at preschool I started searching for somewhere I could go while I waited. It needed to be somewhere with Wi-Fi so that I could work on my Weight Watchers chat job and of course stay in touch with my accountability groups. I decided to check out Aromas Coffee Bar in Charles City. Let me just tell you the other option I had With free Wi-Fi was McDonald’s.  So I feel like I made a pretty good decision! The first day I went in I wasn’t sure what to order when I looked at that board with all the different choices, especially because I do not like coffee at all. So I went for a hot chocolate, the only problem is as I watched them make it they were using whole milk and I could only think about the points that were racking up in my brain!  The next day I Overheard some ladies order vanilla chai tea. My Weight Watchers brain thought that would be a better option, only the first time I ordered it again not being a coffee shop frequenter they put whole milk in again. The third time was a charm, I ordered a skinny vanilla chai tea and I have been in love Ever since! 10897067_10152476193305989_4675556890869435360_n (1)

Since I’m speaking honestly I will tell you I have tried to re-create it at home… I come nowhere near what Aromas can do! For the record neither does any other coffee shops I have frequented now in our area.

Here is my top five list of why I love Aromas and you should visit!

1. The owners are super friendly and I am starting to feel like a regular and welcomed by those that are there regularly.

2. You will get to hear some of the best conversations and the answers to many of our worlds problems.  There is a group of whom I assume to be retired men and women who sit and their conversations are the best. The men usually pick a number to see who is going to pay for the coffee that day. I think the person that gets closest to the number is the one who pays!  Love it!

3. You will get to see a mom bringing her kids in for hot chocolate, grandmas bringing grandkids and like I saw this morning a daddy brought his kids in for a strawberry smoothie! That’s small-town living at its finest! Everyone calls them by name and welcomes the small children

4.  Your productivity will increase! Since I have been going to the coffee shop two days a week for two hours my productivity has gone through the roof! I get so much more done. Probably because I’m not at home looking at laundry that needs to be done or floors that need to be swept I use those two hours to the best of my ability!

5. The fifth reason is because I love the environment, I have never liked the smell of coffee but now I think of aromas right away when I even get a hint of coffee in the air. It’s just a peaceful, calm, no stress atmosphere. I love to do my work there because even though there’s some hustle and bustle of people coming in and out it’s calming!

Where are you the most productive?

Have you ever visited Aromas?

What is your favorite hot drink?

What Inspires You Wednesday-Challengers

imageedit_17_3542942941What Inspires You Wednesday-PiYo Challengers

I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I am of my PiYo challenge groups.  They are such an inspiration to me and to each other!  They comment, share, joke, and push each other on during these 60 day challenges.  They have had weight losses, inches lost, strength gained, but more importantly some are reporting an increase in belonging and self esteem. They have done this together and they are willing to share because we have created a safe space in our secret Facebook groups.  Why do this inspire me?  Because all of the above things listed are making stronger, healthier people!


Let’s talk about online challenges for a moment…Am I standing right next to a challenger seeing if the complete a workout?Nope! Am I creating a meal plan that they follow? Nope!  Am I slapping their hand or criticizing them if they miss a workout? Nope! So, in a sense the challengers still have to want to improve on their own. Do I post to the group daily? Absolutely! Do we do special little challenges some days? Yep-chug a lug!  Do I encourage and “chat” with members? Absolutely, anytime they need me I am a click away! Do I check in on them if they have been “quiet” in the group? Yep, my role is to coach and encourage those members!

These challengers are also inspiring others!  When they share their pictures on social media, when they talk about what they are doing it raises awareness!  I issued a challenge to my Schmitt Fitness family the other day to think about 5 people that they want to inspire.  It has been so fun to see the results of that little call to action!  WE are making a difference and inspiring others along the way! One of my favorite parts of the inspiration I get from my challengers is that they are doing PiYo as a family! All 4 members of our family love PiYo and it is something active that we can do together. Sometimes the girls participate and sometimes they just try to knock me over! 😉 Children, husbands, wives and friends are able to enjoy these challenges together in their own homes!


Sweaty Selfie posted in a challenge group by challenger, Tiara and her husband.


Downward dog split with a child crawling under me. 😉

If you are interested in joining a fun and interactive group a PiYo challenge group may be perfect for you. Leave your email below and I will be in contact with you.  Our next challenge group starts February 2nd!

In other exciting news…I was chosen as a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador! Yeah, there are 3 of us from Iowa! Great things to come from this opportunity!

Have you ever been a part of a group that helped you stay accountable?

What inspires you? Would you be interested in writing a post about what inspires you?  Email me at

Tabata Tuesday with a Kettlebell

Here is another installation of Tabata Tuesday!

This is how I do my tabata workout at home, I use an app called interval timer on my phone, which works really well. Set your timer for 8 sets of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Do 8 sets of each exercise. After you complete one exercise for 8 sets, rest for 45 seconds and move on to the next exercise.  I included a video to show some of the moves that work your core!

1. One legged burpee Alternate legs each 20 seconds

2. Squats with Kettlebell at your chest

3. Kettlebell Burpee

4. V Sit Hold

5. Push Ups

6. High Knees

7.  Reverse Lunge with Kettlebell Overhead Press Alternate legs each 20 seconds

8. Kettlebell leg raise and reach   Alternate legs each 20 seconds

Share this workout with someone that you think may enjoy it and comment below and let us know what you thought!

If you are interested in joining one of my PiYo challenge groups comment below.  The next group starts February 2nd!image